Research Output
Complex Pleasures: Designing Optional interactions for Public Spaces
  This research aims to contribute to knowledge about the design of interactive systems sited in public spaces. In particular, the study concerns "optional interactions" where systems invite interaction from passers-by. These systems are action-orientated rather
than goal-oriented, are designed to encourage engagement, and offer positive and rewarding experiences through the activity of interaction. This is in contrast to systems that provide functional services that are actively sought out by people, such as ticket
vending machines or cash dispensers.
This thesis asserts that this kind of optimal, designed experience can be examined and understood through comparisons with approaches taken by new-media artists working in interactive, technological media. Artists have different priorities, and use different methods to those employed by Human-Computer Interaction researchers, and this study aims to further understanding of the potential of these artistic approaches for interaction designers.
The setting for these optional interaction systems is any public or semi-public environment, including museums, galleries, shopping centres, foyers and urban settings. As well as understanding the public and social context of these interactions, the experiential aspects of interaction are of primary importance in this study. The work is conducted with the aim of providing practical and theoretical resources to interaction designers tasked with creating engaging interactive systems that initiate and sustain experiences that are highly regarded by the participant. The thesis presents a design
framework titled the Optional Interactions Design Framework.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    20 July 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    004 Data processing & computer science

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Helgason, I. Complex Pleasures: Designing Optional interactions for Public Spaces. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Interactive systems, public spaces, optional interactions, engagement, interaction design,

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